If you’re looking to lose a few pounds or need a little metabolic boost, you may have considered using appetite suppressants. Appetite suppressants are substances that reduce your food cravings. But do they work? Many over-the-counter stimulants claim to suppress your appetite, but most contain unnecessary additives and synthetic ingredients that you should avoid. Lucky for you, there’s evidence that some all-natural appetite suppressants might help.
These natural supplements and lifestyle choices can help you eat less, burn fat and calories, crave less junk food, and feel fuller longer. And there are many health benefits to losing weight, especially if you have a few unwanted pounds.
What Is a Natural Appetite Suppressant?
A natural appetite suppressant subdues your brain and body’s hunger signals — naturally. This means it is a substance found in or extracted from foods in a natural state, without any artificial or synthetic chemicals.[1, 2]
Natural appetite suppressants work in a variety of different ways, but we’ve gathered the ones that seem the most promising. Most of these herbs and spices interact with your body’s physiology in more than one way, like burning fat or boosting your metabolism.
Top Natural Appetite Suppressants
You may have been wondering whether some herbs and spices can suppress appetite, and they can! Some others are extracts from commonly known ingredients, like green coffee beans. Read on to learn more!
Green Tea Extract
Green tea and its extract EGCG (epigallocatechin-3-gallate) have healing properties. They boost mental alertness and aid digestive distress. But green tea is also a popular weight loss aid, including its ability to suppress appetite.
Derived from the crocus flower, Crocus sativus, brightly colored saffron is not only used as a seasoning in food but also to lose weight.
Saffron’s bioactive compounds include crocin and crocetin. It appears that crocin, in particular, may reduce appetite.
What’s a morning without a cup of java? Coffee may be one of America’s favorite morning drinks, and it turns out the caffeine it contains may suppress appetite, at least in the short term.
When you drink coffee 30 minutes to 4 hours before a meal, it reduces appetite and results in lower energy intake — in other words, fewer calories consumed. However, when you consume caffeine 3 to 4.5 hours before a meal, it does not work as well. (Yes, there is overlap in those two categories). The closer you drink coffee to your meal — but at least 30 minutes out — the greater its appetite-suppressing magic.
Red Pepper (Capsicum)
The active appetite-suppressing ingredient in peppers is capsaicin. You’ll find it in everything from red bell peppers to cayenne pepper. Spicier peppers have more capsaicin, and hence more appetite-suppressing power.
Capsaicin increases your feeling of fullness immediately and even hours after you’ve eaten. Eating peppers not only gives you a boost of vitamins, it also increases your body’s resting energy expenditure and boosts fat burn. So it’s an appetite suppressant and a fat burner!
The body may become less sensitive to the weight loss benefits of red pepper over time, so take breaks from it occasionally. Some people are sensitive to plants in the nightshade family, including peppers, eggplants, and tomatoes. Talk to a nutritionist if you have adverse effects when consuming them.
Green Coffee Bean
Green coffee beans are simply unroasted coffee beans. They contain chlorogenic acid, a compound that has been shown to hinder fat accumulation.
Whether caffeinated or decaffeinated, green coffee bean extract is a useful supplement for weight control. Not only will green coffee bean extract lower appetite, but it may also help reduce fat mass and weight gain.
By influencing hunger hormones, green coffee bean helps with blood sugar and blood pressure.[17, 18] It can also help shrink your waist circumference, lower the accumulation of body fat, and reduce your appetite.[17, 18, 19]
This herb is popular for use in Ayurvedic medicine. Gymnema leaf’s most widely touted benefit is the suppression of cravings for sweet things.
It’s commonly known as “gurmar,” which means “sugar destroyer.” Two compounds within it work in tandem — saponins and a polypeptide, gurmarin — to create its sugar-battling effect. The fewer sweets you eat, the easier it’ll be to kick stubborn fat deposits to the curb.
Kalahari cactus or Hoodia gordonii is a popular weight loss supplement. Traditionally, the San Bushmen of the Kalahari desert used Hoodia as an appetite suppressant.
Turns out that its active compound, P57, suppresses a desire to eat by boosting levels of ATP. Think of ATP like gasoline for your body — it produces the energy for every physiological process in your cells.
P57 may also stimulate the central nervous system and help the hypothalamus control hunger more efficiently. As a result, consuming Hoodia can decrease body mass index or BMI.
Dandelion also boosts the breakdown of fat in the blood. When taken as an herbal tea, it may reduce the consumption of unhealthy sweetened drinks. For these reasons, you will often find dandelion in weight loss supplements.
Dandelion also protects against oxidative stress, when free radicals cause cell damage. While it may not suppress appetite directly, it offers synergistic support for those on a weight loss journey.[27, 28]
Aloe Vera Gel
People around the world have used aloe vera therapeutically for centuries. This succulent plant grows in tropical climates and is also a common house plant. But can it decrease appetite?
Aloe vera inner leaf gel can reduce the subcutaneous fat under the skin and visceral fat that surrounds organs — two types of body fat which are notoriously difficult to get rid of. Aloe also creates a mild laxative effect, cleansing the gut and smoothing digestion. With better digestion, your body can absorb nutrients more efficiently.
Aloe contains acemannan, a polysaccharide found in the inner leaf. Acemannan promotes normal blood sugar and triglyceride (fat) levels. As a bonus, acemannan acts as a prebiotic or food for probiotic microbes. Only take inner leaf, not outer leaf aloe latex, which contains aloin, a harsh laxative.
Global Healing Center’s certified organic Aloe Fuzion™ is a high-potency formula with the highest amount of acemannan available, made exclusively from inner leaf aloe.
Other Natural Ways to Reduce Appetite
Besides natural appetite suppressants, certain lifestyle and dietary choices also help reduce hunger. Here are some helpful, natural ways to suppress your appetite.
Exercise has dozens of health benefits. Not only do you burn calories and build muscle, you also keep your heart healthy, improve fat oxidation, and increase the health of cells throughout your body. But high-intensity exercise has another surprising effect on the body: suppressing hunger.
This appetite reduction may be due to an interaction between the satiety hormone ghrelin, the stress hormone cortisol, and interleukin — a glycoprotein that affects hunger and appetite. Exercise also influences PYY, a peptide with an appetite-lowering effect.
Wherever you fall in the spectrum and whatever type of workout you do, knowing how exercise helps appetite may boost your motivation. Aim for 150-minutes of aerobic exercise each week! You’ll feel the difference.
Your diet can affect your appetite. While healthy fats like avocado can fill you up, when you eat more protein, you boost your body’s metabolism. Protein and its component amino acids provide the building blocks of your muscles, bones, and blood and influence appetite. But did you know that protein actually takes more energy to digest than carbohydrates?
Certain amino acids also influence hunger and fullness. L-arginine increases levels of PYY — which, as mentioned, signals fullness.[36, 34] The amino acid tryptophan boosts serotonin, a hormone that lifts mood and reduces anxiety — both of which may otherwise cause overeating.
Eat Fiber-Rich Foods
Fiber helps food move more quickly through the small intestine. This raises levels of PYY, which signals your brain to make you feel full.
Fiber also “fills you up” with its bulk. When you consume foods without much fiber, you may eat or drink more because your stomach hasn’t “reached capacity” yet.
Take, for example, drinking apple juice versus eating an apple. An apple’s soluble fiber gives you a greater sense of fullness faster. This prevents greater calorie intake compared to drinking a cup of apple juice.
With fiber, your stomach takes in indigestible carbs that don’t add to your caloric load because you excrete them in your stool. But they take up space in your gut that might otherwise get occupied by high-calorie foods, and therefore reduce calorie consumption.
Great sources of fiber include oatmeal, brown rice, and other gluten-free whole grains, green leafy vegetables, and fruits. Also, remember to always drink several glasses of water throughout the day. Aim for half your body weight in ounces daily.
Points to Remember
Top natural supplements that show promise include green tea, cayenne and its component capsaicin, green coffee bean extract, caffeine, Gymnema, and Hoodia.
Some of these you can take as supplements, but you can just as easily have a cup of green tea or a cup of coffee to reduce your appetite. Avoid synthetic appetite suppressants. Instead, opt for natural ways to suppress your appetite and reduce your food intake.
Another great approach to curb hunger involves lifestyle and dietary choices. Eat fiber- and protein-rich foods, and stay active every day — especially high-intensity workouts.
What natural appetite suppressants have you tried? Share your experiences below!
- Batterham RL, Bloom SR.The gut hormone peptide YY regulates appetite. Ann N Y Acad Sci. 2003;994:162-168.
- Austin J, Marks D. Hormonal regulators of appetite. Int J Pediatr Endocrinol. 2009; 2009:141753.
- Green Tea. National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health (NCCIH). Published: Sept 2016. Accessed: 28 Oct 2018.
- Rains TM, et al. Antiobesity effects of green tea catechins: a mechanistic review. J Nutr Biochem. 2011 Jan;22(1):1-7.
- Chen IJ, et al. Therapeutic effect of high-dose green tea extract on weight reduction: A randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled clinical trial. Clin Nutr. 2016;35(3):592-599.
- Huang J, et al. The anti-obesity effects of green tea in human intervention and basic molecular studies. Eur J Clin Nutr. 2014 Oct;68(10):1075-1087.
- Unno T, et al. Dietary tea catechins increase fecal energy in rats. J Nutr Sci Vitaminol (Tokyo). 2009;55(5):447-451.
- Abedimanesh N, et al. Saffron and crocin improved appetite, dietary intakes and body composition in patients with coronary artery disease. J Cardiovasc Thorac Res. 2017; 9(4): 200-208.
- Modaghegh MH, et al. Safety evaluation of saffron (Crocus sativus) tablets in healthy volunteers. Phytomedicine. 2008 Dec;15(12):1032-1037.
- Schubert M, et al. Caffeine, coffee, and appetite control: a review. Int J Food Sci Nut. 2017;68(8):901-912.
- Greenberg J, Geliebter A. Coffee, hunger, and peptide YY. J Am Col Nut. 2012;31(3):160-166.
- Temple J. The safety of ingested caffeine: a comprehensive review. Front Psychiatry. 2017;8:80.
- Janssens P, et al. Acute effects of capsaicin on energy expenditure and fat oxidation in negative energy balance. PLoS One. 2013; 8(7):e67786.
- Yoshioka M, et al. Effects of red pepper on appetite and energy intake. Br J Nutr. 1999 Aug;82(2):115-123.
- Narang N, et al. Current understanding of antiobesity property of capsaicin. Pharmacogn Rev. 2017; 11(21):23-26.
- Ludy M-J, Mattes R. The effects of hedonically acceptable red pepper doses on thermogenesis and appetite. Physiol Behav. 2011; 102(3-4):251-258.
- Dietary Supplements for Weight Loss. Office of Dietary Supplements, National Institutes of Health. Updated 1 Feb 2019. Accessed 30 Oct 2018.
- Roshan H, et al. Effects of green coffee extract supplementation on anthropometric indices, glycaemic control, blood pressure, lipid profile, insulin resistance and appetite in patients with the metabolic syndrome: a randomised clinical trial. Br J Nutr. 2018 Feb;119(3):250-258.
- Choi BK, et al. Green coffee bean extract improves obesity by decreasing body fat in high-fat diet-induced obese mice. Asian Pac J Trop Med. 2016 Jul;9(7):635-643.
- Tiwari P, et al. Phytochemical and pharmacological properties of Gymnema sylvestre: an important medicinal plant. Biomed Res Int. 2014; 2014: 830285.
- Astell KJ, et al. Plant extracts with appetite suppressing properties for body weight control: a systematic review of double blind randomized controlled clinical trials. Complement Ther Med. 2013 Aug;21(4):407-416.
- MacLean DB1, Luo LG. Increased ATP content/production in the hypothalamus may be a signal for energy-sensing of satiety: studies of the anorectic mechanism of a plant steroidal glycoside. Brain Res. 2004;1020(1-2):1-11.
- van Heerden FR, et al. An appetite suppressant from Hoodia species. Phytochemistry. 2007;68(20):2545-2553.
- Clare B, et al. The diuretic effect in human subjects of an extract of taraxacum officinale folium over a single day. J Altern Complement Med. 2009 Aug; 15(8):929–934.
- Koithan M, Niemeyer K. Using herbal remedies to maintain optimal weight. J Nurse Pract. 2010 Feb;6(2):153-154.
- Choi U-K, et al. Hypolipidemic and antioxidant effects of dandelion (Taraxacum officinale) root and leaf on cholesterol-fed rabbits. Int J Mol Sci. 2010; 11(1):67–78.
- Dufay S, et al. Herbal tea extracts inhibit Cytochrome P450 3A4 in vitro. J Pharm Pharmacol. 2014;66(10):1478-1490.
- Zhu M, et al. Effects of Taraxacum mongolicum on the bioavailability and disposition of ciprofloxacin in rats. J Pharm Sci. 1999;88(6):632-634.
- Gamboa-Gómez C, et al. Plants with potential use on obesity and its complications. EXCLI J. 2015; 14:809-831.
- Stensel D. Exercise, appetite and appetite-regulating hormones: implications for food intake and weight control. Ann Nutr Metab. 2010;57 Suppl 2:36-42.
- Hunschede S, et al. Decreased appetite after high-intensity exercise correlates with increased plasma interleukin-6 in normal-weight and overweight/obese boys. Curr Dev Nut. 2017;1(13):e000398.
- Douglas JA, et al. Appetite, appetite hormone and energy intake responses to two consecutive days of aerobic exercise in healthy young men. Appetite. 2015;92:57-65.
- Mollahosseini M, et al. Effect of whey protein supplementation on long and short term appetite: A meta-analysis of randomized controlled trials. Clin Nutr ESPEN. 2017;20:34-40.
- Rania Abou-Samra, et al. Effect of different protein sources on satiation and short-term satiety when consumed as a starter. Nutr J. 2011;10:139.
- Halton TL, Hu FB. The effects of high protein diets on thermogenesis, satiety and weight loss: a critical review. J Am Coll Nutr. 2004 Oct;23(5):373-385.
- Amin A, et al. L-arginine increases postprandial circulating glp-1 and pyy levels in humans. Obesity (Silver Spring). 2018;26(11):1721-1726.
- Harper AE, Peters JC. Protein intake, brain amino acid and serotonin concentrations and protein self-selection. J Nutr. 1989;119(5):677-689.
- Batterham RL, Bloom SR. The gut hormone peptide YY regulates appetite. Ann N Y Acad Sci. 2003;994:162-168.